Imagine, for a moment, a thriving garden, meticulously sown with seeds of wisdom, watered with the nurturing essence of time-honored values, and illuminated by the brilliant light of divine guidance. As the years pass, the garden's caretakers begins to abandon his duties, seduced by newer, more enticing philosophies that promise “liberation” and “progress.” The once-vibrant and flourishing garden is now overrun by unruly weeds, with its once-healthy plants struggling to thrive amidst the chaos.
This allegorical garden, described ever-so-dramatically, represents the current educational landscape, where institutions have gradually let go of the traditional values that we once embodied. The focus has shifted, driven by the winds of progressive ideology, towards a more secular and individualistic outlook. As the brilliant C.S. Lewis once said,
"Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil."
We’re all bystanders to this whirlwind of change, with progressive ideologies seeping into the very core of our institutions. It is time for you to ask yourself, what sort of change are we embracing?
It’s important to remind ourselves of the value of tradition and the role it plays in shaping our identities. Our families, our homes, and our faiths serve as the bedrock of our society, and it is upon these foundations that we should be building the future of our educational system.
So why do we fail to critically analyze the consequences of this shift and all that is possible by reinstating time-honored values in today's educational landscape? The result of this failure is the lack of a balanced approach to learning that fosters both intellectual development and strong moral character.
The Roots of Education and Its Role in Society: What can we learn from the historical origins of education? How can the inclusion of religious wisdom and guiding principles in our educational system help cultivate well-rounded individuals capable of navigating the moral complexities of the modern era?
I like to imagine myself standing in the grand halls of the ancient Library of Alexandria, with centuries of human wisdom contained within its walls. Each scroll, carefully preserved and meticulously arranged, represents the distilled essence of our ancestors' thoughts, dreams, and aspirations. This is the birthplace of education – a sanctuary for the pursuit of knowledge and the cultivation of a divine wisdom.
Tragically, the magnificent Library of Alexandria, with its insane wealth of knowledge and history, was consumed by the flames of destruction on two occasions, leaving an immeasurable void in our collective intellectual heritage. As the library burned, we lost not only countless scrolls, but also the guiding light that could have illuminated our path through the ages. It was a devastating loss, but one that leaves us reminded of the fragility of knowledge and the importance of cherishing, preserving, and sharing our collective wisdom.
As the world races towards an uncertain future, we need to heed the lessons from this catastrophic event and strive to safeguard the timeless values and wisdom that form the cornerstone of human civilization. Our educational institutions must once again become the bastions of knowledge, morality, and spirituality that they were once originally intended to be.
The historical origins of educational institutions are rooted in this profound idea: knowledge can transform lives and shape societies. Ancient civilizations, from Greece to China, revered the scholars who unlocked the mysteries of the universe and illuminated the human condition. In those times, the purpose of education extended far beyond mere intellectual pursuits and achievements – it was a spiritual and ethical journey that sought to uplift the human soul.
Things have drastically changed since then, with the essence of education being diluted by a bunch of external forces. A study revealed that the average high school graduate's reading and math proficiency has plateaued over the past two decades, despite a significant increase in education spending. Our rich educational heritage is slowly unraveling, leaving us with a pale surface-level imitation of what once was.
The worst part is that the current state of higher education in the United States highlights even more concerning trends. As of fall 2021, approximately 19.6 million students were enrolled in higher education institutions, with 16.6 million attending public institutions and 3.0 million enrolled in private institutions. Despite the increase in enrollment, the alarming thing to note was the six-year graduation rate for first-time, full-time undergraduate students who began their pursuit of a bachelor's degree in 2014 was 62%. This statistic describes the critical evaluation needed in our educational system and the factors that contribute to the less-than-ideal graduation rates.
I cannot begin to emphasize the importance of having guiding principles to mold well-rounded individuals. In a world that is constantly shifting, casting aside its foundations in pursuit of the latest trends, it is crucial that we remain anchored to the values that have stood the test of time. Our roots run deep, and it is by staying true to these roots that we can foster the growth of strong, resilient, and compassionate individuals who are prepared to face the challenges of an ever-changing world.
The role of religion in shaping moral and ethical perspectives in education is something that I hold dear to my heart. It is in the teachings of faith that we are able to find the essence of humility, empathy, and selflessness, virtues that are increasingly becoming rare in today's self-centered and materialistic society. By keeping the wisdom of religion in our educational system, we can provide a much-needed compass to guide our children through the moral complexities of the modern era.
Allow me to paint a picture, a future where the hallowed halls of learning are once again infused with the warmth and light of faith, where students are not only taught the secrets of the universe but also the wisdom to navigate the labyrinth of the human heart. A future where the pursuit of knowledge is intertwined with the cultivation of character, and our educational institutions are creating the path towards that brighter tomorrow.
Intellectual Diversity: How has the shift in focus from nurturing well-rounded individuals to promoting specific ideologies affected intellectual diversity and open discourse in educational institutions? What are the consequences of the marginalization of foundational disciplines and values in favor of more politically charged subjects on students' intellectual curiosity and moral development?
There was a time in the past where educational institutions were revered for their unwavering commitment to the pursuit of truth and wisdom. They provided fertile ground for the exchange of diverse ideas and fostered an environment that encouraged critical thinking, debate, and the cultivation of intellectual curiosity. Rooted in a rich tradition of inquiry and discovery, these institutions stood as pillars of knowledge, guiding generations of students on their journey towards enlightenment and self-realization.
Somewhere down the line, there was a shift in focus from nurturing well-rounded individuals to promoting specific viewpoints. This is a disquieting trend that warrants a closer look.
The contemporary academic landscape appears to be shifting under the weight of a growing emphasis on promoting particular ideologies. This transformation can be seen in the increasing politicization of the classroom, where the focus has shifted from fostering open dialogue to advancing specific agendas. This subtle but profound change has stifled the intellectual growth of students and deprive them of the opportunity to explore a wide range of perspective or even examine things under a more critical lens.
According to this study, there is a significant imbalance in the political composition of faculty members in higher education, with liberal professors outnumbering their conservative counterparts. This lopsided representation not only stifles intellectual diversity but also creates an environment where the voices of Republicans are becoming marginalized.
The excerpt (shown above) from the article highlights the impact of this disparity on the campus climate, revealing that conservative students feel unwelcome or even ostracized in university settings. This hostile environment results in self-censorship, as students that hold conservative views feel reluctant to share their perspectives out of fear of backlash or social isolation.
Consequently, the free exchange of ideas—a cornerstone for the academic experience—becomes compromised, with the dialogue increasingly dominated by a single perspective.
The study points to research suggesting that the political homogeneity of college faculties are also self-perpetuating, as liberal professors are more inclined to hire like-minded colleagues. This cycle of ideological reinforcement not only exacerbates the existing imbalance but also perpetuates an environment where conservative voices are drowned out.
In order to restore the true spirit of academia—an open marketplace of ideas where diverse viewpoints can be explored and debated—it is crucial that this issue is addressed head-on and the work towards fostering an inclusive and intellectually vibrant campus climate for all students, regardless of their political leanings is done.
The shift towards promoting ideologies results in the marginalization of time-honored values and principles that have shaped the course of human history. In a world increasingly consumed by the pursuit of the “new and the novel”, it is essential that we recognize the importance of preserving our intellectual and cultural heritage. The erosion of traditional values in academia not only impoverishes the understanding of the past but also weakens the foundation for the future.
The impact of progressive thought on curricula is also extremely evident through the prevalence of courses that prioritize social justice, identity politics, and activism over the traditional liberal arts education. Sure addressing contemporary issues and challenging societal norms is important, but this shift in emphasis risks overlooking the foundational disciplines that have shaped human civilization for centuries. The classics, literature, philosophy, and history have all played a critical role in forming our intellectual heritage, and their marginalization in favor of more politically charged subjects deprives students of the opportunity to engage with the ideas and perspectives that have shaped our world.
To make matters worse, the influence of progressive thought has extended beyond the classroom, seeping into the fabric of institutional objectives. Universities and colleges, once devoted to the pursuit of truth and knowledge, now appear to be preoccupied with advancing a particular social and political agenda. This shift in focus has led to a proliferation of initiatives aimed at promoting diversity, inclusion, and equity. While these goals are laudable, they often seem to come at the expense of intellectual diversity and open discourse, which are essential components of a healthy and dynamic academic environment.
In the past, the curriculum was designed to expose students to a wide range of subjects and disciplines, with the aim of cultivating an appreciation for the complexity and diversity of human thought. Students were encouraged to engage with great thinkers and ideas, from Plato and Aristotle to Shakespeare and Newton, in order to develop a deep understanding of the world and their place within it. The ultimate goal being to foster intellectual curiosity and critical thinking, empowering students to form their own opinions and beliefs based on reason and evidence.
And now the present-day academic landscape seems to be increasingly influenced by progressive ideologies, which prioritize the promotion of specific agendas over the cultivation of intellectual curiosity and moral development. Over the importance of being able to think and conclude an opinion with reasoning for yourself.
Last year, my younger sister had told me that she was no longer taking grade 11 English, instead the curriculum was revised and renamed to “Indigenous Studies.” As any alarmed guardian would, I began to ask her more questions about her classes and what she was learning and came to find out the following:
Consequently, the values and beliefs championed by educational institutions today revolve around concepts such as identity politics, social justice, and activism. The overwhelming focus on such topics risks marginalizing the foundational disciplines and values that have long been at the heart of the educational experience.
So what happens when premature minds are exposed to topics such as identity, gender “fluidity,” etc?
Ideological Battles: How has the secularization of educational institutions and the rise of progressive ideologies contributed to the erosion of moral and ethical grounding in society? What are the consequences of the infiltration of ideological battles and the decline of traditional values on students' intellectual curiosity and critical thinking skills?
The gradual dismantling of our bedrock values within our educational institutions has led to a moral vacuum, which is a significant threat to the moral compass of future generations. Traditional values, such as discipline, respect, honesty, and perseverance, once provided a solid foundation upon which individuals could build their lives.
These values instilled a sense of responsibility and duty, guiding people in their interactions with others and their decision-making processes. To top it off, the role of religion in the past emphasized the importance of moral and ethical grounding, setting a clear framework which individuals could turn to when navigating the complexities of life.
In contrast, the secularization of our educational institutions and the relentless push for progressive ideologies have weakened the emphasis on moral and ethical grounding.
The focus has shifted from fostering individuals with a strong sense of right and wrong to promoting subjective moral relativism, where individual beliefs and feelings are considered the ultimate arbiters of morality. This shift, coupled with the decline of religious influence, has created a breeding ground for moral ambiguity and ethical confusion.
And this is not an issue that should be taken lightly. The erosion of moral and ethical grounding has far-reaching consequences in our society. When individuals lack a strong foundation in traditional values, they become more susceptible to harmful influences and less capable of making principled decisions. This erosion can lead to the breakdown of societal cohesion, as people become increasingly divided and disconnected from moral norms.
The clash of ideologies in academia led to this highly charged environment where students are often exposed to conflicting messages and values. This exposure creates a sense of confusion and anxiety, as students grapple with questions of identity, purpose, and meaning.
One example of this confusion was perfectly captured in the TEDx Talk by Dr. Warren Farrell, titled "The Boy Crisis: Why Our Boys Are Struggling and What We Can Do About It.” In this talk, Dr. Farrell talks about the challenges faced by boys in a society that often sends mixed messages about masculinity and male identity, leading to an identity crisis among young men.
I also came across this article that emphasizes the erosion of Christian values in Christian colleges, which are slowly adopting secular and progressive ideologies and how this shift is creating an environment where students are caught in the crossfire between opposing ideological forces, leading to feelings of disorientation and uncertainty.
The author of the article shared that Christian colleges should embrace their Christian roots and provide a solid foundation for students who seek guidance amidst the chaos of conflicting values and beliefs. By doing so, these institutions help students find stability and direction in their search for identity and purpose. Which I could not agree with more. Kids need a strong moral compass, religion is a great starting place for that.
An article by The College Fix also sheds light on another aspect of the ideological battles faced by students. The article focuses on the surge in transgender ideology and its impact on young girls. The author of the book "Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters," Abigail Shrier, offers advice to parents on how to protect their daughters from the harmful effects of this ideology.
Shrier's perspective highlights the confusion and identity crisis that can arise among females as they navigate the polarized landscape of ideologies within educational institutions. With conflicting messages and values being promoted by teachers, parents, mentors, students end up with feelings of disorientation and uncertainty. She goes on to provide extremely helpful steps to protect your daughters from any gender confusion.
The infiltration of ideological battles and the erosion of traditional values have contributed to a learning environment that stifles genuine intellectual curiosity and the growth of students.
A case study by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) titled "What Will They Learn?" reveals a disturbing trend in higher education. The study found that less than 40% of the surveyed institutions required students to take a foundational course in literature, and only 13% required a course in American history or government. This lack of exposure to foundational knowledge hinders students' ability to think critically and understand the broader historical and cultural contexts in which they live.
Another report from the National Center for Education Statistics found that only 37% of 12th-grade students performed at or above the proficient level in reading, and only 25% performed at or above the proficient level in mathematics in 2015. These statistics point towards a substantial gap in critical thinking and problem-solving skills, further supporting the argument that intellectual development is on the decline as a result of the progressive agenda.
Eroding Traditional Values: How have postmodernism and relativism contributed to the rise of identity politics and the prioritization of subjective narratives over shared values? What are the consequences of the disintegration of a cohesive society on social trust, empathy, and community building?
I believe that postmodernism and relativism have played a significant role in dismantling traditional values and the abandonment of objective truth in favor of subjective narratives. Postmodernism challenges the idea of a single, unified truth, and relativism argues that truth is subjective, varying from person to person and culture to culture. While these concepts have some merits in encouraging a more inclusive and diverse understanding of the world, they also contribute to the erosion of foundational values and the dismissal of objective truths.
One of the consequences of postmodernism and relativism is the rise of identity politics and the fragmentation of society into various interest groups. This fragmentation has led to the prioritization of personal narratives and subjective experiences over shared values. And as a result, the pursuit of knowledge and intellectual development have become overshadowed by the need to assert one's identity and adhere to the prevailing narratives of one's group.
A YouTube video by the Hoover Institution, featuring Dr. Jordan B. Peterson, provides a critical perspective on the rise of identity politics and its consequences. Dr. Peterson, a renowned psychologist and cultural critic, argues that the focus on subjective narratives has led to the disintegration of shared values and the polarization of society.
One of the consequences of the disintegration of a cohesive society is a decline in social trust and a growing sense of isolation among individuals. People become more focused on their differences rather than their shared humanity, which makes it challenging to build a sense of community and belonging. This decline in social cohesion can lead to increased conflict and a lack of empathy for those who hold different views or come from different backgrounds.
The Devaluation of Academic Excellence: How has the shift from meritocracy to superficial achievements affected students' motivation and the values of society? What are the consequences of the decline in educational standards on the workforce and the economy, and how does this relate to the increasing commercialization of higher education?
I know it sucks to have to say it. But we can all agree that there was a shift in education from creating refined humans to the commercialization of higher education and its influence shows on the quality of learning. The increasing focus on profit margins and the relentless pursuit of financial success in higher education have led to a shift in priorities, at the expense of the intellectual development I mentioned before.
The commercialization of higher education is seen in the rapid expansion of for-profit colleges and universities, which prioritize enrollment numbers and revenue generation over the quality of education. This trend leads to the dilution of academic standards, as institutions focus on attracting students with marketing strategies and flexible course offerings rather than on the quality of their academic programs.
This study delves into the effects of commercialization on higher education, particularly with regards to the decline in educational quality. It shows the impact of market-driven forces on academic standards, leading to an increase in the number of students who are inadequately prepared for the job market. The study highlights the implications of this phenomenon on society, as it reinforces the need for a critical evaluation of current educational practices and a shift towards a better approach to learning.
As institutions increasingly prioritize revenue generation and market-driven strategies, the core values of intellectual curiosity and academic rigor become compromised. It is crucial for society to critically assess the consequences of this trend and work towards preserving the integrity of higher education as a space for the pursuit of knowledge and the development of well-rounded, critical thinkers.
The troubling trend in our education system is: the abandonment of meritocracy and the rise of superficial achievements. This shift has implications beyond our understanding for the development of our future generations, as well as the values we hold dear as a society.
Meritocracy, the idea that individuals should be rewarded based on their abilities and achievements, has long been a cornerstone of our educational system. It brings a sense of fairness and equality, motivating students to work hard and strive for excellence. In recent years, there has been a noticeable decline in the importance placed on meritocratic principles.
In place of meritocracy, we now see an increasing emphasis on superficial achievements that do not necessarily reflect a student's true potential or capabilities. For example, schools and universities might prioritize the number of extracurricular activities a student participates in, or their ability to craft an impressive personal statement, over their actual academic performance. In turn, students will choose degrees or schools that will land them the highest-paying job rather than one that will foster innovation and thinking within them.
One reason for this shift is the increasing pressure to stand out in an ever more competitive landscape. As more students apply to prestigious universities and compete for limited spots, it becomes increasingly challenging for educational institutions to differentiate between candidates based on their academic achievements alone. So they begin to place more weight on extrinsic factors that might not accurately measure a student's intellect or potential.
This trend obviously has several negative consequences. First, it leads to a devaluation of hard work and genuine intellectual achievement, as students begin to feel that their efforts are not recognized or rewarded fairly. Second, it exacerbates existing inequalities, as those with access to resources and opportunities are better positioned to accumulate these superficial achievements.
This shift in priorities has a long-term consequence on our society. When we prioritize superficial achievements over meritocracy, we risk creating a generation of individuals who end up lacking the critical thinking skills and curiosity necessary for personal growth and progress.
As mentioned earlier, the gradual lowering of academic standards in our educational institutions has resulted in a workforce that is not fully prepared to meet the demands of today's competitive and rapidly evolving economy.
This report found that only 37% of high school seniors were academically prepared for college-level coursework in math and reading. This lack of preparedness has a ripple effect, as graduates enter the job market without the foundational skills required to succeed in their chosen fields. The skills gap ends up creating a diluted educational standard that ends up costing companies millions of dollars annually. This is due to increased spending on training and development programs, as well as the lost productivity associated with having under-qualified employees.
A workforce that is not adequately prepared will struggle to adapt, potentially leading to stagnating economic growth.
Experts point out that the decline in educational standards not only affects individual job seekers but also has broader implications for economic development, innovation, and social cohesion. As nations compete for global dominance in emerging industries, a poorly prepared workforce hinders a country's ability to innovate and maintain economic growth.
I firmly believe that a renewed emphasis on traditional values and beliefs is essential to counteract the adverse effects of the current educational landscape. We can begin by reintegrating the time-tested principles that have guided previous generations, we can foster a sense of shared purpose, moral clarity, and intellectual rigor. Natural question - how?
Reintegrating Religion, Ethics, and Morality in Education: What strategies can be implemented to reintroduce religion, ethics, and morality into the educational system?
The reintegration of religion, ethics, and morality into the educational system is of paramount importance for the holistic development of students. To achieve this, several strategies can be implemented:
- Curriculum revision: A comprehensive revision of the curriculum should be undertaken to incorporate courses on religious studies, ethics, and moral philosophy. These subjects should be taught objectively, ensuring that students understand the fundamentals of various belief systems and ethical theories, fostering respect and tolerance for diverse viewpoints. But there should be a debate incorporating allowing for students to counter, discuss and critically analyze what is being learned/taught.
- Character education programs: Schools should introduce character education programs that focus on instilling core values such as integrity, empathy, and responsibility. These programs can be woven into the existing curriculum or implemented through extracurricular activities such as community service projects or mentorship programs.
- Teacher training: Educators play a critical role in shaping students' moral and ethical development. Therefore, teacher training programs should incorporate modules on teaching ethics, religious studies, and values-based education, equipping teachers with the necessary tools and knowledge to effectively convey these subjects without their own biases.
- Parental involvement: Engaging parents in the educational process helps reinforce the values taught at school. Schools should organize workshops, seminars, and parent-teacher conferences to discuss the importance of traditional values and collaborate on strategies to support their children's moral and ethical development.
- Interfaith dialogue and collaboration: Schools can also organize interfaith events and activities to promote understanding of different religious backgrounds. This can include guest speakers, panel discussions, and field trips to places of worship.
- Encourage critical thinking and debate: Teaching students to think critically and engage in respectful debates about ethical dilemmas and moral issues can help them develop a deeper understanding of different perspectives and foster their moral reasoning skills.
- Community partnerships: Schools should partner with religious institutions, non-profit organizations, and community leaders to create programs that promote moral and ethical values. This collaboration can help students gain a broader understanding of the role these values play in society and learn how to apply them in their everyday lives.
I know that change does not occur overnight. But we have to start somewhere to save our children from the hands of a progressive agenda that will lead them astray. I look forward to a future where the beauty of our past, the wisdom of our ancestors, and the richness of our cultural heritage are interwoven into our educational system, and our society as a whole.
We need to work towards creating an environment that nurtures the hearts and minds of our children, equipping them with the knowledge, virtues, and resilience to navigate the complexities of our evolving world. It is through this harmonious blend of tradition and critical reasoning that we can truly foster a more compassionate, empathetic, and united global community, leaving behind a legacy that will resonate for generations to come.